Bulls 95, Nets 78
Taj Gibson scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler added 15 to help Chicago rout Brooklyn. Trailing 50-49 early in the third quarter, the Bulls took over behind Butler. He keyed a 21-5 run that gave Chicago control. Butler, who sat out the last game because of a right ankle injury, started the burst with a 3-pointer and had a three-point play that made it 57-52. Deron Williams scored 18 points for Brooklyn. The Nets have lost four straight. “I’m surprised at this season, how it’s played out altogether,” Williams said. “It’s like a nightmare the way the injuries have been, the things we talk about every day, the lack of effort, the lack of energy.”
Thunder 123, Knicks 94
Kevin Durant scored 29 points, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by the middle of the third quarter, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled over the New York Knicks, who played without Carmelo Anthony. The Durant-Anthony showdown between the NBA’s top two scorers was canceled because of Anthony’s sprained left ankle, so the Thunder had the Christmas spotlight to themselves while winning for the 10th time in 11 games. Westbrook finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in his first triple-double of the season and seventh of his career. Serge Ibaka added 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. “I just know that if we play the way we play, team basketball, Thunder basketball, not too many teams that can beat us,” Westbrook said. Amare Stoudemire scored a season-high 22 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 21 for the Knicks, who also were missing starting point guard Raymond Felton. J.R. Smith scored 20 points, but shot 8 for 22 and was booed when he left the court for good. A sellout crowd of 19,812 either booed or made no noise at all. “I said that on the bench, I was like, ‘Man, it feels like nobody’s in here,”’ Durant said.
Rockets 111, Spurs 98
James Harden scored 28 points and Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds, leading balanced Houston over the San Antonio. Each of Houston’s starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season. San Antonio (22-7) still leads the Southwest Division by 31/2 games over Houston. Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones each scored 21 points for the Rockets (19-11), who shot 52 percent from the field. Jeremy Lin had 13 points, eight assists and just one turnover.